REVIEW! Trivium - What The Dead Men Say

April 20, 2020

In these trying times, the masters of modern metal, Trivium have returned with the poignantly titled new album 'What The Dead Men Say' - a name which fits the current climate a little more directly than they probably first intended. Following on from the huge success of 2017’s ‘The Sin And The Sentence’, the Orlando quartet's latest offering takes everything that shone from their previous releases and reassembles it into a defining record that celebrates the band’s progression throughout their career. 


Trivium have undergone quite a few evolutions since their 2005 debut album, melodic metalcore classic 'Ascendancy'  and have continued to push the limits of their sound over the course of the last 15 years becoming a titan within the industry along the way. 


This is the ninth album from the band and it opens rather suitably with the instrumental “IX”, just in case you weren't paying attention. This is a sombre atmospheric piece that starts clean and open, building its way up to weaving, prog-tinged riffs at its conclusion leading to the title track, which starts with a dissonant, eerie, wavering guitar and a drum fill flourish. With a cry of ‘Go!” the track rips out into a neck-snapping riff and takes flight. The double kick from drummer Alex Bent during these open sections particularly stands out.


The main part of the track is heavily melody soaked and mainly driven by vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy’s crisp, clear, clean vocals. The vocal offering all round feels emotive and very articulate in its delivery with Heafy switching from soaring, powerful clean vocals to his throaty shouts, each sitting quite far forwards within the mix. This song contains one of the most infectious choruses on the album and one that will be in your head for days.


There are some rather beefy breakdowns later on which demonstrate some ultra razor sharp chugs before a moment of respite, featuring a military snare pattern and a lead guitar playing a melody over the top. Just as you think you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, Bent breaks out into a complete barrage of technical complex chops that leaves you totally speechless. There are also some nice, very distinctly Trivium flavoured guitar solo sections that follow this before the track finishes up on the obligatory ‘big chorus’, just in case it hadn’t quite worked its way in yet. The drums during the final parts of this track are incredible with interesting subtleties scattered throughout.


‘Amongst The Shadows And The Stones' is monster of a track that immediately tears open with some very distinct 2005 flavoured riffs and a charge of energy to match. This is a guaranteed headbanger and is definitely one of the tracks that will more than satisfy the Trivium fanbase who prefer the heavier side of things. Building up to an almighty cry of “Amongst The Shadows And The Stones”, the track rips open into a metalcore assault. Dynamically it drops during the verses, contrasting really drastically with the pre-chorus, which is a slab of full on groove metal. The build up to the solo at the halfway mark, and the tease of twin lead guitar from Matt and Corey sounds like it jumped straight out of ‘Ascendancy’ as does the solo itself. The later parts of the track are much thrash soaked, the bands early influences showing through.

Around the halfway point we get to  ‘Bleed Into Me’, a track that is sounds almost like Trivium’s take on early Tool or A Perfect Circle, tapping into that bass driven, odd time signature, atmospheric feel that is synonymous with the two bands. The big soaring, swaying chorus is another one that will be with you for days and has a really uplifting quality to it, in part due to the lead melody line, but mainly due to the immensely powerful vocal delivery from Heafy.


The penultimate track ‘Bending The Arc To Fear’, takes a punchier, heavier direction. The intro features pounding drums and stabbing discordant guitars that jump out of the mix. This then opens out into weaving tremolo picked riffs with interjecting high stabs. Bent’s beats transition between laid back grooves during the verse and frantic blast beats during the other sections. The cymbal work on this is spot on and the accenting works really well. There are some rather punchy Lamb Of God tinged breakdowns later into the track, coupled with Heafy throwing his signature shout over the top. The track finishes up on a swinging, progressive breakdown that has some moments of their more explorative works.


The big ending comes in the form of the hugely melodic and emotive ‘The Ones We Leave Behind’. It's Full of thrashy complex drums, articulate chords and driven vocals. The track is largely melody driven, the duty being shared between Heafy’s vocal and Corey’s high lead lines.


The pre-chorus build in this track is a particularly stand out moment, the intensity picking up substantially before exploding into the chorus. This seems to be a trend throughout, providing some of the most interesting transitional moments on the album. 


There’s no question which band you are listening to here and there are countless moments throughout that are highly reminiscent of their back catalogue, yet executed masterfully enough to still sound fresh. Trivium have been known from the very start for their level of musicianship and song crafting, and the directions they have explored with each of their releases has gained them as many fans as it has divided. 'What The Dead Men Say' seems to break this trend though, containing a bit of everything for fans old and new, embracing the nostalgic as well as exploring new ideas. The production on the album as a whole is absolutely top notch and enhances the final product, buffing and shining each part to perfection and lending a consistency that runs throughout. 


Where this record shines the most is in its ability to deliver nostalgia and a fresh evolution in equal measure, knowingly giving nods to their origins whilst also exploring new ground and keeping the formula interesting.  


'What The Dead Men Say is released April 24th via Roadrunner Records




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